Toronto slammed for over-policing at homeless camp
The city of Toronto faces criticism for what many are calling excessive use of police force when cleaning up a homeless camp in a public park on Tuesday.
Police barricades and bulldozers were in full force during a forced eviction by the city from one of Toronto’s largest tent camps in Trinity Bellwoods Park.
As the city identified public safety as the main reason for the cleanup of the encampments, defenders who attended Tuesday’s cleanup (as well as their social media hearings) were surprised by the number of police and private security in attendance. .
Consternation and outrage from camp allies and community organizers spilled into the Twitter sphere last night under the hashtag #defundthepolice.
“… I was there. Tory is lying. The violence / lack of security was coming from hundreds of tactical cops / horses / vans / drones / fencing / threats,” tweeted Beaches-East York MPP Dr. Rima Berns. -Mcgown.
City communications officer Brad Ross has defended dismantling the encampments as a necessary public health measure, describing the health outcomes of those who remain outside as “complex and serious.”
“As stated in the city manager’s recent report to city council, the settlements violate several chapters of the city code and are not a solution to homelessness,” the city said in a statement on the planned eviction from the city. public space.
Residents of the encampment disputed that the city’s own shelters and hotel programs are the kind of refuge from COVID and violence that the public has been led to believe they are. “At least 36 people have died in urban shelters in the first four months of 2021 alone,” read a post on the Encampment Support Network (ESN) Instagram account, which has more than 23,000 subscribers.
The Toronto Police Department has also been criticized for preventing journalists from entering the encampment area as they attempted to cover the incident, as well, according to a statement from the Canadian Association of Journalists (ACJ) , own a photojournalist.
“Toronto police are prohibited from detaining journalists who cover events of public interest. Today’s events were a complete overreaction. Toronto police used a hammer to crush a fly, ”the CAJ President said Tuesday.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the heavy police presence was a response to “the circumstances that were created there when hundreds of people turned up who were not the homeless people we were trying to help ”. He added that the protesters were “people trying to make a statement” and were steadfast in their refusal to allow the city to clear the encampments in the park.
Eviction notices were also issued to residents of Alexandra Park, Moss Park and Lamport Stadium camps, where the previous eviction in May had resulted in clashes between police and citizens, which included allegations of police officers wearing “Thin Blue Line” badges endorsed by the far right.